Newspapers and ‘Site Diversification’

I’m not-so-secretly rooting for the newspapers to succeed online. One could argue that they are, generally speaking, but they need to take things to an entirely different level if they’re to remain viable over the long term.

Today I was talking with David Lenzen, the relatively new CEO of Planet Discover (PD). He succeeded founder Terry Milliard, who I’ve heard is off “living the good life.” (Would that it were possible for all of us.)

Lenzen was discussing some of the capabilities that PD can offer to partners, which include vertical content feeds and aggregation, in addition to core federated search. It got us talking about a range of newspaper sites, some of which PD works with and some of which it does not.

Among the 200+ sites that PD is working with is the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s (a youth oriented entertainment site in the mold of city guide Metromix). Metromix, which is partly owned by PD-parent Gannett, is another one. PD also was involved with Scripps’ KnoxMoms, though the functionality has now been brought in house.

These are separate brands in the market. None of them look or feel like newspaper sites but may offer content and advertising from newspapers.

Accordingly, these and other sites that Lenzen and I discussed again raised the issue for me of what I’m calling “site diversification.” Newspaper sites cannot accomodate all the various local uses cases and newspapers need to build or buy (if they can) other sites that will. The Gannett Mom sites (e.g., IndyMoms) are a great example of the strategy.

Make the newspaper sites as usable as possible but build other sites (demographically focused, vertical, etc.) for content and ad distribution.

Along those lines, some time ago I did a quick consulting project for the AJC (Cox) in conjunction with their intended launch of a site that was supposed to answer the painful question, “What are we having for dinner?” (Even as I write this I’ve yet to answer this question for myself.)

I never knew what became of the project but today discovered that it had indeed launched as “Evening Edge.” We might quibble over the UI but the content and concept can’t be beat. It offers recipes, community content, take out menus and delivery options, a restaurant guide and local grocery (offline) promotional tie-ins:

I think it’s a great example of a newspaper leveraging content and advertiser relationships in a new context to create something genuinely useful. It has parallels to Yahoo Food, but it has a powerful local angle that Food doesn’t.


One Response to “Newspapers and ‘Site Diversification’”

  1. LA Times and Diversification « Screenwerk Says:

    […] is consistent with some of the themes discussed in this post about newspaper “diversification.” Like the NY Times, the LA Times appears to be […]

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